Editorials Play ‘Kick the Can’ with Maine People and the Woods Business

The Common Sense trophy for Most Dishonest Editorial” in this week’s spate of outrageous editorial forest drivel goes to the Maine Sunday Telegram in a piece of work titled: “Legislature should save forest industry from self “. Don’t miss it. It’s at http://pressherald.com/. (Ed. note: no longer available online.) Guy Gannett Communications completed their 4-point punch today, March 22, 1998, when their Maine Sunday Telegram echoed the mindless arrogance of the rest of their chain: Kennebec Journal, Waterville Morning Sentinel and Portland Press Herald in joining the Bangor Daily News to stomp on the little people who went into the voting booth and said NO to the Compact.

The Bangor Daily News editorial writer, on Thursday, March 19th, at least was honest to say that the widely-advertised Green proposal (LD 1766 ) they supported was tougher than the Compact. The MST doesn’t have the courage to say that they are endorsing “Compact Plus” — they just say it isn’t radical. That earned them the Common Sense award for most dishonest editorial. Neither do they tell you that only 3 people out of 13 supported it on the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee and that they were the far-left members: Volenik, Shiah and McKee, and they cite Mitch Lansky as the expert of choice. Oh, give us a break!

The Ag Committee bill goes too far. It increases regulations on the heels of the no-more regulation vote. And the major newspapers want to go further.

Here’s the real story. Two years ago the major landowners got their tails in the crack when the Governor shut the door on them by putting the Compact on the ballot. Most of the Big 15 landowners never wanted it to be a ballot question, it was going to be something they voluntarily did to reassure the ilk which think like Shiah, Volenik and McKee. I’m talking about the Volvo crowd headed by Brownie Carson, Jonathan Carter, Tom Urquhart, i.e. Natural Resources Council of Maine, Forest Ecology Nitwits, and Maine Audubon et al, whose very livelihoods depend upon stirring the war-of-words pot. Without “crisis”, they’re history. The Governor made the voluntary Compact into raw politics by twisting arms at the Legislature to make the Compact a ballot issue.

The Maine newspapers never “got it” that the issue was about more regulation and more playing of “Mother, may I” with the state. They thought it was about forestry and it never was…not at the core. Yet, these cheer leaders for elitist back room deals are the same people who, with rare exception, wandered in from out of state and get weepy-eyed and sentimental about the Norman-Rockwell aspects of town meeting ,but show their preference for central, state control, not local control, by what they give lip service to, and by hammering us with editorials like the one today.

The Compact lost, in spite of all the major newspaper support of the Compact, in spite of a Hollywood-Squares-inspired Governor taking to television and radio with expensive media coverage. It lost in spite of the $8+ million dollars that were spent to sell the Compact. It lost, not once but twice. It lost because it’s wrong, wrong, wrong for the Maine way of life to make a statutory structure which has the capacity to become a top-down, regulatory nightmare. It lost because thousands of freedom-loving unpaid volunteers with little money worked their hearts out all over the state to defeat it. It lost, and these isolated newspaper writers are still mad about it. It causes them to wonder if they are as powerful as their salaries would indicate, haunted that they are becoming irrelevant every time grassroots Maine finds its voice.

Yet, if the same principles of micro management implied in the Compact were applied to the newspaper business, the same people pushing the Compact this week would rebel. It just isn’t their ox that’s being gored. So much for intellectual honesty.

But industry did get it. They understood the NO vote and have said so in Augusta this Legislative session. Big landowners, beat upon for too long in the Maine Legislature, subject to too much state regulation, and who have had to develop a higher pain tolerance than most of us just to survive, support the Committee bill because they are used to being hit over the head and this was a lighter-than-usual hit. But they strongly oppose LD 1766 in the original or as amended, the radicals’ choice, because it’s not good for anybody, especially the Maine economy.

The Common Sense position is simply to stand up for what is now in the budget…..a biennium request of $409,000 to fully fund the highly-regulated Forest Practices Act and to provide the Maine Forest Service with the funds necessary to collect good forest inventory information and to keep it current. This should be the default position for the entire industry, large and small. We’ll see what happens as these bills get resolved beginning this coming week in the Legislature.

But to carelessly kick around an industry which contributes an annual $6 to $7 billion out of the $26 billion Maine economy, by writing that they don’t know what’s good for themselves, is an insulting, inaccurate blunder! And to endorse the bill (LD 1766) backed and promoted by the enemies of this irreplaceable industry, is reason enough for the owners of these newspapers to take away their pens and send them back home where they came from. They don’t deserve to speak to the people of Maine if they won’t speak for them.

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